There is a dangerous stigma surrounding addiction. From prescription opioids to alcohol, those caught in the snare of addiction are looked at as having something wrong with them — a moral failing or a character flaw. For that reason, many people with a substance use disorder choose not to seek help. They don’t want their friends, family or coworkers to see them as defective.
If you struggle with addiction, it’s important to understand that it’s not a character flaw or moral failing. It’s not a defect in your personality that you’re not addressing. Addiction is a chronic illness that can be treated with the help of medical professionals. It’s time to look past the stigma and see the truth. There is hope for those with the disease of addiction.
Addiction Is a Chronic Brain Disease
Addiction is commonly viewed as a personal choice or lack of willpower. However, brain science is changing the way we see addictions to drugs and alcohol, offering renewed hope for recovery. Addiction stems from multiple causes, not some underlying character flaw. It’s a chronic disease, just like diabetes, asthma or heart disease.
Using drugs, alcohol and other substances activates your brain’s reward system, causing you to feel pleasurable sensations. Over time, these substances change how your brain functions. Your brain requires more drugs or alcohol to maintain its overall well-being and fend off debilitating withdrawal symptoms.
Everyone is unique, and the effects of drugs or alcohol are specific to each individual. Some are genetically predisposed to addiction. This means that in very little time, a common doctor’s prescription for pain-relieving opioids could lead to a life-altering addiction.
Seeing Past the Stigma
Stereotyping those who suffer from addiction as immoral or flawed is not helpful. Society continues to demonize those with this progressive brain disease instead of attempting to reach out and understand. This shame-based thinking has been one of the factors that cause the addiction problem to continue unabated. Who would want to reach out for help if they are going to be made to feel worse than they already do?
If people could see past the stigma to the person, society would be able to recognize addiction for what it is — a disease that requires medical treatment. Then, those in need wouldn’t have to be afraid to ask for help. Recovery programs could be their first choice, not a last resort.
Seeking Treatment for Opioid Addiction
If you or someone you love has developed an opioid addiction, there is hope. Just like any other chronic illness, there are ways to manage addiction to reduce withdrawal symptoms and live a full and healthy life. At AppleGate Recovery, we specialize in medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
When you come to any of our outpatient facilities, we work with you to individualize your MAT program to your needs, working within your schedule. Our compassionate team is here to walk with you every step of the way on your road to recovery from this heinous disease.